Astronomers have discovered a planet revolving around a distant star. The newly discovered alien world is located 340 light-years from Earth and has similar characteristics as the planet Mercury. Called K2-229b, the exoplanet is 20 times larger than Earth but is hot, metallic and dense like mercury. The planet orbits very close to its star, about one-hundredth of the distance between Earth and Sun, and completes one revolution every 14 hours. As a result, its daily temperature is relatively high, exceeding 2000 ° C. The composition of the planet indicates that its formation processes could be very similar to our own solar system – planet Mercury.
"Mercury stands out from the other terrestrial planets in the Solar System and has a very high percentage of iron on it, and we were surprised to see an exoplanet with the same high density, showing that Mercury-like planets may not as rare as we thought. " David Armstrong from the University of Warwick said in a statement.
The discovery was made possible by NASA's K2 mission. The K2 telescope finds planets looking for tiny dips in the brightness of a star. These burglaries occur when a planet or object passes in front of the star. Then the researchers used the Doppler spectroscopy technique to characterize the distant planet.
Doppler spectroscopy, also known as the wobble method, calculates the size, position and mass of an exoplanet by measuring the radial velocity of the star. The starlight tends to wobble as a planet revolves around the star and the changes in light depend on the size of the planet.
Researchers have also suggested a few theories about the formation of the planet. One possibility is that K2-229b was created after a massive collision between two huge bodies in space billions of years ago ̵
"Interestingly enough, K2-229b is also the innermost planet in a system of at least 3 planets, although all three orbits much closer to their star than Mercury," Armstrong said. "More discoveries like these will help us to make this unusual To illuminate planets and Mercury itself. "